Virtual Welding

Michael Pitt from Weld Australia trained teachers on the mid-north coast at Hastings Secondary College to use augmented reality welding simulators and how to develop curriculum using that technology.

Michael said "Teachers will be able to teach students to weld without any work, health and safety issues and allow students to make mistakes and learn by their mistakes to perfect their craft. Using this technology puts the student at the centre of learning to trial at their own pace; they can work as part of a group or autonomously. The technology supplements and expedites the process."

Good welding takes practice. To master a welding technique, each student requires hours of practical experience. That means most students are using filler metal, gas, and other consumables that increase training costs. Traditional welding in schools, in turn, restricts the time that welding programs on limited budgets can allow their students to practice.

With virtual welding, Hastings Secondary College  can allow their students to practice freely without worrying about material costs. The benefits of extra practice transcend the classroom. Evidence shows that welders who supplement their real-world education with VR technology are better prepared for entry-level jobs than those who only trained in real-world settings. This is all due to the extra practice welders receive with virtual welding.

Welding is a skill that requires not only manual dexterity but also attention to numerous details. Weld quality depends on an operator's travel speed, angles relative to the workpiece, arc position in the welding joint, and the operator's body position throughout the weld's length. Achieving these goals using only traditional training methods can get costly—requiring more hands-on supervision and raw material. Virtual reality welding can help to expedite skills development and reduce training cost, Michael said.

For example, with a virtual reality welding system, students must learn how to replicate proper machine setup before they can "weld." They must know how to enter the material type correctly; the welding process; the gas flow settings; and even the amperage, voltage, and wire-feed speed into the system before they can pick up and use the virtual welding torch.

Virtual reality training is not a substitute for hands-on training in an actual welding booth. Instead, it is a valuable tool within a comprehensive blended training program. A virtual reality welding simulator is incorporated as a supplement and enhancement to traditional welding training methods in blended classroom training.

Virtual reality training programs, when combined with traditional training, have distinct advantages. In addition to economic and safety benefits, virtual reality training systems allow employers to provide initial hands-on training that delivers instantaneous feedback and proficiency scores as applicants and new hires essentially perform the same task they would on the job. The many possibilities offered by virtual welding simulations add up to significant savings without compromising training quality.

As a result of the introduction of augmented reality welding technology the rate of engagement in learning increases and allows students and teachers to analyse and review welding techniques and performance in a digital environment. The result is that students then perform more effectively in the live workshop environment, where it counts.

Many companies, including the military, already use virtual welding as a cost-effective way to provide efficient internal training. Many employers ask entry-level welders to demonstrate their abilities on virtual welding machines during the interview process. Therefore, knowledge of how to use a virtual welding machine is, in and of itself, becoming a skill that can give job-seekers a leg-up in feeling comfortable and prepared for a pre-job evaluation. This means that getting your dream job may hinge upon your VR welding performance.